Help us welcome our new coach, Nick Baker!

From a young age, Nick displayed interest in endurance athletics, competing in track in grade school, and going to swim meets on the weekend. At around age 12, Nick fell in love with cycling after seeing a single stage of the Vuelta a Espana on TV. Shortly after graduating high school, Nick was badly injured during a training ride after being struck by a car. Largely bedridden for a few weeks, Nick discovered track cycling on the internet.

Thus began his current passion of track cycling. Nick competed at the Northeast Velodrome, and when the program at the time ended, he continued his interest in track cycling by traveling to the next nearest track in Queens, New York almost every week. Locals in both Massachusetts and New York were impressed with Nick’s passion and determination. As a result, Nick began working with Shayne, first at P2, then employing him as a coach, wherein Shayne propelled Nick from an average category 4 track cyclist to a competitive category 3.
Nick has now settled in the suburbs of Philly, not far from the internationally known Valley Preferred Cycling Center velodrome, otherwise known as T-Town. Currently a category 2 track cyclist, Nick hopes to continue honing his own fitness and skills while helping cyclists and endurance athletes attain their own goals.
Nick is a USAC certified level 3 coach and is USA Olympic Committee Safe Sport Certified.
Nick is currently accepting new athletes, so what are you waiting for!?  

Why Your Resolution Won’t Work (again)

Oh, the first 2 weeks of January…You are FILLED with social media gym check-ins, diets, cleanses, scales, and other bologna.  People love to “make a New Years resolution” and you will often hear “What’s your resolution this year?” in frequent passerby conversation.  Well, I have some news for you resolutionists, according to Norcross and Vangarelli (1988-89)  “Seventy-seven percent maintained their pledges for 1 week but only 19% for 2 years.” and furthermore, according to Huffpost, only 8% of people actually stick to them.  I am also confident you have experienced first hand the failure rate of people around you, and perhaps even yourself.  So, instead of repeating the same process and expecting a different result (insanity, anyone?), let’s can the old resolution mindset (I have never liked that word anyways), and instead embrace the positive “life change” mindset.  As the former tends to be restrictive and finite, the latter is meant to be incremental, flexible, and indefinite, because guess what?  A “30 day fix” doesn’t fix ANYTHING!  So, how do we go about fostering positive life changes?  I am glad you asked 🙂

Step 1: Set SMALL AND EASILY ATTAINABLE Goals Initially (incremental)

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The #1 mistake I see people make is setting ridiculously restrictive and virtually impossible goals off the bat (IMO).  “I want to cut all carbs this year”, or “I want to lose 50 pounds”, blah, blah, blah.  These goals are a mountain, when you’re not even ready to climb a mole hill yet.  So, taking the above examples:

“I want to cut all carbs this year” is better stated “I want to change 1 meal per week and make a less carbohydrate dense choice”.

And, “I want to lose 50 pounds” is better stated “I want to lose 5 pounds”.

Of course, if the end result is the original statements, you can get there, but remember goals needs to be flexible, incremental, and indefinite.  So, 1 meal per week can quickly become 4 meals per week over the course of a month, and even more thereafter.  Just as 5 pounds of weight loss extrapolated over the course of 8 months can be 50 pounds eventually.  Most importantly though, winning all of these small battles over the course of your life change will result in a positive feedback loop which will motivate you even further.  Win-win!

As you go further down the road, then your goals can become more challenging.

Step 2: Expect Failure and Resistance (flexible)

The #2 mistake I see is people expecting to make a lifestyle change practically overnight and not foreseeing the resistance and will-power challenges that it takes.

As mentioned above, setting small and attainable goals will hopefully decrease this, but you need to be flexible and expect and embrace failure and resistance.  “Everything in moderation” is another great way to think of this concept.  If you set a goal of cutting out sugar, give yourself a few times per week to satisfy that craving (be flexible), BUT incrementally reduce the amount you eat over the course of the month or even year.  I can guarantee feeding that craving initially will result in greater compliance and better results in the long terms.

Failure IS an option, as long as it’s temporary and you use it as a learning experience and not an implosion.

Step 3: Stick With It! (indefinite)

The #3 mistake is people falling for the trap of an easy solution.  The “30 day fix”, or only using certain containers for your foods (I wonder how many Swedish Fish I can cram in my sugar one… 😉 ) and other complete non-sense.  STOP FALLING FOR THE TRAPS, PEOPLE!  Anything that’s worth doing is a challenge and never easy (at least in my experience) and just like in most everything in life, the more work put in = better results.

I am not saying it’s going to be easy, I am saying it’s going to be WORTH IT!

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Make this the year to stop making resolutions and start making positive life changes!  Set goals that are incremental, flexible, and indefinite.  Start off slow, expect some bumps in the road, and understand it is going to be hard at times, but it is definitely going to be WORTH IT!

GC Coaching Virtual Training Phase II Registration is now OPEN!

GC Coaching Virtual Training is a 3 phase program consisting of 8 weeks of structured and progressive training geared towards cyclists and triathletes of all abilities to get you in the best shape possible coming into Spring. You can easily export all of the workouts to your favorite devices or software to make following your program easy. There is also a closed Facebook group where you can talk directly with your coach and other participating athletes. The best part is you can do these workouts from the comfort of your own home and at any time you want!

HOW DOES IT WORK?

-You can use a smart trainer, or a regular trainer with a power meter / heart rate monitor, and / or just a speed sensor!
-All of the workouts can be found in your personal TrainingPeaks account that you will create. You will receive an e-mail after payment with instructions on how to do this. The workouts can be easily exported to your favorite devices and/or training software from your calendar.
-If you need to shift around the days of the workouts, simply adjust them in your personal TrainingPeaks calendar by dragging and dropping them.
-We recommend connecting your TrainingPeaks account and a Zwift account for the easiest way to train. After you connect your accounts, you will find each workout of the day on Zwift under the “TrainingPeaks Custom Workouts” tab when you login.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?

-8 weeks of structured training created by a Level 2 USA Cycling power based certified coach.
-5 workouts per week.
-Access to the GC Coaching virtual training closed Facebook group. Here you will have exclusive access to ask questions to your coach and other participating athletes, learn more about nutrition, hydration, and other training topics, and get to know your fellow members. Invitation to the Facebook group will be sent to the e-mail you register with, so please be sure to use the e-mail linked to your Facebook account.
-A TrainingPeaks basic account.
-A weekly Zwift Group Workout on Sunday mornings (8 AM EST).

*The online program starts Monday, January 1st, but because it’s all “online” you have the flexibility to complete the workouts on your own schedule.*

READY TO SIGN UP, OR HAVE QUESTIONS FIRST?

Please click here

Cheers!

5 Easy Changes To Make This Off-Season Great!

December tends to start the “next” season for roadies, triathletes, mountain bikers, and basically anyone besides a cyclocross racer (because those people are weird anyways! 😉).  So, what you do now, and over the next few months, will really make a difference in how well you perform next year…and you want to surpass this season, right!? 

1) Get Structured

Nothing will make a bigger difference in your progression (aside from having a coach of course) than making your  training more structured.  Eliminating the “junk” miles and the “just riding” workouts will not only result in improved adaptations, but will get you there faster and with less training time invested.  I have also seen structured workouts keep an athlete motivated and focused over the Winter as you have a plan, know what is coming next, and if you stick with it you know you will become stronger.  Plus, Winter riding usually means trainer riding, and interval sessions go WAY faster compared to steady state stuff.

This is also the only time of year when you can “train to train”, i.e. you don’t have a race or event on the horizon and can instead focus on improving aspects that make a good athlete a great one!

1a) Structure Your Recovery

Structure doesn’t apply to training only, of course…You need to overload the body to create an adaptation, but how quickly and how well your body adapts comes down to how well you sleep and how clean you eat.  Training and recovery go hand in hand, and one side must be balanced to reap the benefits of the other side (imagine a see-saw).  So, you can also use this Winter to work on creating better sleep habits, and cleaning up your diet.  Little changes in these areas can make a massive difference in others!

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2) Get Consistent

Fitness = Consistency over Time (F = C/T) ain’t GC Coaching’s motto for nothin’, consistency is crucial to see improvements.  Without a constant and progressive training stimulus, the body has no reason to adapt and become fitter, and you just keep on repeating last year’s fitness peak (which isn’t why you’re reading this now).  So this Winter, get your butt in gear more often, become more compliant with adhering to a plan, or even better, DO BOTH!  Also, remember the body usually adapts better to multiple shorter rides per week as opposed to 1 or 2 really long rides per week (in my experience).

3) Get Together

Training with a partner or group always yields greater consistency, and therefore results!  Embarking on a common goal with people is great because there are days when you just aren’t going to want to get out of bed.  Guess what?  If you have a good training partner, they will either motivate you to get up and go, or guilt you into it!  Either way, your workout for the day is going to get done and you will be a stronger person (both mentally and physically) because of it.  So, this Winter sign up for a group training class, join a Zwift group, or simply make a pact with your friends to make next year YOUR YEAR.

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4) Get Motivated

Find some new music, read an inspiring book, watch a documentary about your big race or goal event for next year…Just do something to “wet your whistle” (so to speak) and keep your interest and focus on the goal over the long Winter doldrums.  I like to come up with, or find, a new motto at the beginning of every season and repeat it like a mantra when the going gets tough.  This year mine is:

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard! -Tim Notke

5) Get Going!

Above all else, just do it!  Yes, this is easy to say and want to do, but no one is going to get you there, except YOU.   The first 2 weeks of anything are the hardest, but after you do something consistently for 2 weeks it gets easier to keep up (I promise!).  After a little more time elapses, you are going to actually look forward to the exercise and miss it if you have to miss a day here and there (I promise that too!). 

So, this Winter, set a goal for riding and recovering in a more structured way; doing it consistently; finding someone or a group to take the journey with; keep yourself motivated by finding a motto, book, person, or movie when the fire wanes (which it will sometimes); and most importantly just get going!

What do YOU want next season to bring?

The Winter makes your Summer!  -Shayne Gaffney

Staying Fit After Kids

I have been a father for a little over a year now, and holding that little baby in my arms for the first time was the best (and also scariest) thing I have yet to experience.  Having kids doesn’t mean everything needs to be put on hold athletically, you just need to re-learn where the balance point of your life is, modify your priorities, and most importantly maximize all of your training time you have available.  Children bring a myriad of changes and new stressors to your life…Don’t get me wrong, the majority of these changes are positive and I would not want it any other way, but since this is an athlete-based blog, let’s get down to brass tacks and talk about what I needed to do in order to preserve fitness and maintain good exercise habits.

Find Time

This may seem obvious, but guess what?  That cushy 9, 10, 11 AM ride start time isn’t going to happen much anymore.  Also, those 2, 3, and 4 hour rides are going to be few and far between, so the first thing that needs to happen is finding, or creating time to train.  For me, this has been before my Son wakes up, during his nap time, or after he goes to bed.  Rarely, I will get out for a longer ride over the weekend, but this is a “when the stars align” scenario as opposed to a sure thing.  This may mean sacrificing watching your favorite television show, reading that book, taking a nap, and perhaps losing a little bit of sleep (let’s be honest though, sleeping doesn’t really happen after kids anyway!), but you need to prioritize your time for fitness as opposed to leisure even more after kids.  Your leisure time is best (and most enjoyed) with them I would argue anyways 😊.

Multitasking is also of ultra importance with finding time.  During my steady state and endurance based rides (read: when I can actually focus on something else besides the acid in my legs!), I like to listen to a podcast, read-up on some new research/studies, download a book and have it set to auto-scroll, watch a television show/movie, etc.  Essentially, if I can do it while riding, that will save me an hour somewhere else during the day and I can “kill 2 birds with 1 stone”, win-win!

time-management
Image: Boroktimes.com

Get Structured

Finding time is important, but what you do with that time is more important than anything.  By cutting out the “junk” rides and actually getting yourself on a structured training plan (or hiring a coach 💪) you can further maximize your return on training time invested.  I am always amazed at how much improvement can be made with only 6-8 hours of training time per week when it is utilized properly, even for the super time-crunched athlete.

Adding structure to “how” you workout makes a big difference too.  Using a turbo trainer is a huge benefit for parents since all you need to do is throw your kit on, fill your bottles, and swing your leg over the top tube.  Even better, set your bike up on it on Sunday after your ride and leave it there for the week, that way if you need to squeeze in a ride during a nap time or early/late in the day, everything is ready and waiting for you.  If you are really fortunate, you can have 1 bike on the trainer at all times, and your other bike’s tires pumped up for your outdoor rides (n+1, right?).

Prioritize

This goes along with points 1 and 2, but prioritizing and really figuring out what is important to YOU is crucial after kids.  For myself, I knew I had to continue to workout (albeit for less time) because I needed that stress-relieving outlet primarily, but cycling and staying competitive is a huge part of my being.  With that being said, my young family is by far and away priority #1 (as it should be for everyone, I would argue), but if I don’t take care of myself and my needs, I won’t be able to give them my all.  However, if staying competitive really isn’t your bag, that’s okay!  You can still cycle for enjoyment, maintain a healthy stress-outlet, and even cycle as a family (which is so awesome!), just do something to keep a smile on your face and avoid burning yourself out.

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Image: Ted.com

Find Motivation

With increased stress, decreased sleep, and your world basically changed and flipped upside down (Fresh Prince, anyone?), keeping the flame burning to train can be harder than ever.  However, there are ways to keep yourself going, and I am even more motivated to train now than I ever was before!

  • Find a support system: This can be family, friends, riding acquaintances, etc.  Someone or something (social media groups) to hold you accountable and a place where you can ask for help if needed.  Raising kids is a massive undertaking and challenge, having a safe place to turn to can make all the difference for keeping your motivation up.
    • Similar to that, ride with a group (actual or virtual).  Having other cyclists who are expecting you to be there makes it a lot easier to get yourself up and out of bed, especially after those rough nights with a fussy baby!
  • Don’t let your kids down: This is something I have used a lot when the going gets tough.  I have had plenty of days when I don’t want to ride, finish the interval, etc.  But thinking about the example I want to set for my kids keeps me going.  Do you want your “campfire stories” to be about your failures, or your successes?
  • Set challenging, but attainable goals, and track your progress: This can be as simple as losing a few pounds, increasing your FTP, riding for “x” miles per week, or as specific as completing “x” event next year.  Whatever it is, setting a goal (and maybe finding others with the same goal) is a great way to keep you moving forward.

Above all else though, enjoy and maximize your time with your new family.  Fitness will come and go, but your loved ones are always there!

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Why Does Cadence Matter?

Cadence is an important aspect of cycling that needs to be understood better by coaches and athletes alike.  How fast or how slow your legs spin makes a massive difference in metabolic demand as well as muscle fatigue rates over the course of a race or workout.  This post will serve to educate you on what the current literature says  in regards to why utilizing different cadences for each cycling discipline is important, how metabolic and muscular demand is effected by leg speed, and what this all means to you!  First though, let’s define what cadence means to a cyclist:

Cadence is a measure of how many revolutions per minute (RPM) a cyclist is producing whilst pedaling.  This is measured by how many times the cranks turn.

What is “Normal” Cadence?

“Normal” cadence is very subjective, but for a trained athlete you can assume they will adopt a cadence of ~90 RPM over flat to rolling terrain (1).  In my experience, most beginner level cyclists will adopt a much lower cadence of ~70 RPM due to not having the neuromuscular pathways developed that allows for rapid contraction and relaxation of muscle fibers that comes with hours and hours of pedaling.  Beginner cyclists may also utilize a lower cadence due to metabolic inefficiencies (which I will get to later).

“Normal” cadence can also differ by what discipline the athlete is competing in, and especially the terrain they are riding over.  Lucia et, al. (1) found well trained cyclists will pedal ~90 RPM during a flat to rolling stage of a race, ~95 RPM during a time trial, and ~70 RPM over a high mountain pass.

Why the Differences?

Muscles have a finite ability to contract and relax, with this ability becoming less the more intense your ride is and the longer you ride for (cramps anyone?).  So, being able to delay muscle fatigue is paramount to every cyclist.  Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to improve this, but for the sake of this blog post, we will discuss how  different cadences can effect muscle fatigue rates.

~70 RPMs

This RPM has been established to be more demanding on the muscular system, but less demanding metabolically, i.e. you can save energy spinning slower, with the caveat of possibly fatiguing your muscles quicker (3).  Perceived exertion also tends to be relatively higher at this cadence (2).  Nielsen et al. (4) also found this lower cadence leading to improved endurance in well trained cyclists, at low intensities (think RAAM).

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~90 RPMs

~90 RPMs has been established as the “normal” cadence for the trained cyclist.  Think of this as the Goldilocks cadence where the level of metabolic stress and muscle fatigue are relatively equal, and perceived exertion is comfortable (2,3).  This also tends to be a good cadence whilst sitting in a peloton as it allows you to both spin and coast with relatively ease.  However, going from 60 to 90 RPM can mean a 29% metabolic demand increase, so make sure you are fueling properly.

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~100-110 RPMs

Now we are really minimizing muscle demand, but maximizing metabolic demands.  However, you really wouldn’t use this cadence level for anything other than a shorter time trial or mountain top finish where you are really trying to squeeze everything you can out of your legs.  You will also normally be working at your threshold or slightly above in these scenarios, which will cause a massive dump of lactate and subsequent muscle acidosis (burn).  Fortunately, at these higher cadences, the muscles can act as a pump and better flush out the acidosis-causing metabolites which results in being able to go hard for longer (5).

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What Does This Mean for You?

The big takeaway here is your cadence should change based on what your goals or races are, and your build/peak phases of training should reflect it.  If you are a track sprinter, don’t spend much time doing long slow cadence slogs around threshold and if you are participating in hill climbs, minimize the short and sharp high-cadence workouts accordingly.  Remember though, this isn’t true for the general preparation and base phases…Another thing to remember is:

Power = Force x Velocity (cadence)

Force takes a long time to develop whereas velocity can be improved relatively quickly.  If you are not spending time performing cadence-specific workouts, you are literally missing half of the equation!

So, do yourself a favor this Winter and incorporate some pedaling efficiency and cadence drills during your late base and early build phases that are specific to your goals;

  • Track riders / time-trialists / short hill climbers – SPIN THOSE LEGS!
  • Stage race / road racer – Goldilocks spinning mainly, but with a little bit of both high and low cadence work to replicate what you may encounter.
  • Long time-trialists (like RAAM long), long mountain climbers – Make sure you are doing a fair amount of lower cadence work to get your body used to the strength demands and especially at a relatively lower intensity to improve your body’s ability to utilize fat as a fuel source.
References
(1) Lucia, A., Hoyos, J., & Chicharro, J. L. (2001). Preferred pedalling cadence in professional cycling. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 33(8), 1361-1366.
(2) Marsh, A. P., & Martin, P. E. (1998). Perceived exertion and the preferred cycling cadence. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 30(6), 942-948.
(3) Peterman, James E., “Energy Expenditure During Passive Cycling: The Effects of Leg Mass, Cadence, and Adaptation” (2011). Integrative Physiology Graduate Theses & Dissertations. Paper 4.
(4) Nielsen, J. S., Hansen, E. A., & Sj Gaard, G. (2004). Pedaling rate affects endurance performance during high-intensity cycling. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 92(1-2),
(5) HAGBERG, J. M., J. P. MULLIN, M. D. GIESE, and E. SPITZNAGEL. Effect of pedalling rate on submaximal exercise responses of competitive cyclists. J. Appl. Physiol. 51:447–451,

GC Coaching’s Labor Day Weekend Training Plan w/ Workout Files

Labor Day is a mixed emotion Holiday for me, on the one hand it signifies the beginning of Fall and cyclocross season (my 2 favorites!), but it is also the “end” of Summer.  Fret not though, there is still plenty of riding time available, and cycling in the Fall can be the best (and prettiest) time of the year to ride.  Just think…apple cider donuts…hot cocoa…pumpkin beer (okay maybe not that one)…crisp cool mornings, and warm sunny afternoons…you get the point here!  Let’s not focus on the negatives, and utilize these next 3 days to become a stronger rider and start the Fall season off right!

The following 3 day plan starts off with high-intensity on Saturday (VO2 Max), mid-intensity on Sunday (Threshold / Sweet Spot), and lower-intensity on Monday (Endurance / Tempo).  Working this way will allow you to hit the highest output when your body is fresh, and as you become fatigued, the intensity drops off accordingly.  So, please don’t change the order of these workouts, there is a method to the madness.

Saturday’s Workout: VO2 5×3 + SST 2×10

VO2 + SST

Time: 1 hour and 22 minutes

Intensity Factor: .87

Training Stress: 102.7

WARM UP:
-10 minutes gradually progressing from Active Recovery zone to Endurance zone.
-3×30 seconds Spin Ups (110+ RPM) @Threshold zone+, 30 seconds easy.
-2 minutes easy
———
MAIN SET:
-5x 3 minutes @VO2 Max Zone (115% FTP) @85-95 RPM, with 3 minutes recovery (55% FTP) between.
-Recover for 5 minutes after the 5th interval.
-Then, 2x 10 minutes @Sweet Spot zone (90% FTP) @95+ RPM, with 5 minutes recovery (55% FTP) between.
———
COOL DOWN:
-10 minutes gradually reducing from Endurance zone to Active Recovery zone

Garmin file here | Zwift file here

Sunday’s Workout: Kitchen Sink

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Time: 2 hours

Intensity Factor: .81

Training Stress: 132.2

WARM UP:
-10 minutes gradually progressing from Active Recovery zone to Endurance zone.
-3×30 seconds Spin Ups (110+ RPM) @Threshold zone+, 30 seconds easy.
-2 minutes easy
——
MAIN SET:
-10 minutes @FTP @100+ RPM
-15 minutes recovery @Endurance zone (65% FTP) @Comfortable cadence
-20 mins @Tempo zone (75% FTP) @80 RPM with a 20 seconds burst @VO2 Max zone (120% FTP) @110+ RPM every 3 minutes
-15 minutes recovery @Endurance zone (65% FTP) @Comfortable cadence
-5x 1 minute @VO2 Max zone (120% FTP) @90-100 RPM, 1 minute recovery (55% FTP) @Comfortable cadence
-15 minutes recovery @Endurance zone (65% FTP) @Comfortable cadence
-10 minutes @FTP @100+ RPM
——
COOL DOWN:
-5 minutes gradually reducing from Endurance zone to Active Recovery zone

Garmin file here | Zwift file here

Monday’s Workout: Endurance / Tempo Ride

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Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours (depending on athlete training availability)

Intensity Factor: .75

Training Stress: 140 to 270 (depending on ride length)

WARM UP:
-10 minutes gradually progressing from Active Recovery zone to Endurance zone.
-3×30 seconds Spin Ups (110+ RPM) @Threshold zone+, 30 seconds easy.
-2 minutes easy
——
MAIN SET:
-Ride for 2 to 4 hours @Endurance/Tempo zone (55%-90% FTP)
-Keep your cadence in a comfortable range and your effort steady
——
COOL DOWN:
-10 minutes gradually reducing from Endurance zone to Active Recovery zone

-Riding at your Endurance/Tempo zone for long periods of time will increase your endurance, increase mitochondrial density, increase glycogen storage, increase plasma volume, and increase your cardiac stroke volume and cardiac output to name a few.
-It is important to stay within these zones for as much time as possible during this ride, so no surges going uphill and try not to coast when going downhill.

Garmin file here | Zwift not recommended for this ride for sanity reasons

Plan Totals

Total Time: 6 hours and 12 minutes to 10+ hours (depending on athlete training time)

Average Intensity Factor: .81

Total Training Stress: 375 to 505 (depending on athlete training time)

Get out there and RIDE!

❤️ GC Coaching

Should you do Running-Specific Workouts for Cyclocross?

This is a question I received from an athlete (be sure to ask us if you have any questions pertaining to cycling also!):

Dear Shayne –

I am getting ready for my first cyclocross race in late September.  How much running should I be doing (if any) to get ready?  I have heard and read many opinions on the topic, but I wanted to get yours also.

Short answer, yes, you need to perform running specific workouts for cross, but with a caveat of keeping them skilled and/or explosive based.

Skill-Based Runs

Since cross involves jumping off and back onto your bike multiple times per lap, steep climbs that are un-rideable, muddy terrain or sand that is impassable by bike, and getting caught behind riders who go down, it is important to be able to quickly transition from riding to running to riding again.  So, the primary component to a cross running skill workout should be the dismount and remount…

Dismounts / Remounts

Workout: Evil 20’s

This workout is VERY intense and needs to be done when well rested to get the most out of it (i.e. do it early in the week).

  1. Go ALL OUT for 20 seconds.
  2. Recover for 20 seconds spinning easy.
  3. Dismount and run alongside the bike up a steep incline or carry the bike on your shoulder up a set of stairs, again going ALL OUT.
  4. Remount and spin easy for 20 seconds.
  5. Repeat starting at step 1 again.

Start off with 2-3 sets based on current fitness level and work up to 8-10 sets.  Focus on keeping the dismounts and remounts as smooth as possible, especially when you become fatigued from the efforts.

Barriers

Barriers, logs, a stray dog on course, etc. all require dismounting, lifting the bike over the obstacle, and remounting again as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Like many things in life, this takes a minute to learn, but a lifetime to master.  So, the more you can practice and mimic the race conditions you are going to encounter, the better!  Practice carrying your bike over barriers that are on flat ground, downhill, uphill, on sand, grass, gravel, mud, etc.  Make it as diverse as possible.

Explosive-Based Runs

Generating a lot of force quickly is paramount to pretty much every discipline in cycling.  In cross, it happens to be more important than most due to the twisty and tight cornering found in a course and the need to be able to accelerate hard repeatedly out of those corners and after a remount.  If I have an athlete that is struggling with generating power, I will recommend a short block of plyometrics before their cross season starts to help improve this.

Workout: Cross Specific Plyometrics

Be sure you are warmed up before performing these exercises and STOP if you have any joint / muscle pain – aside from muscle fatigue of course 🙂  Perform each of these for 30-90 seconds (based on fitness) and rest for equal time between exercises.  Run through the list 1-3 times each.  Perform them 1-3 times per week.  A Google image search will bring up each of these pictures.

  1. High Knees
  2. Butt Kicks
  3. Squat Jumps
  4. Forward Bounding
  5. Skaters
  6. Box Jumps

So, should you do running-specific workouts in prep for cross?  Yes, BUT they should not involve lacing up your trainers and going out for a steady 5k run.  Your training needs to become more specific the closer your event and race season gets; save the steady runs for your cross-training during the offseason.  Include 1-3 days per week of intense training that involves lots of dismounts, remounts, and riding over varying terrain.  Be sure to include some plyometric training as well if you are not as explosive as you would like to be.

#crossiscoming

What is the Difference Between Aerobic and Anaerobic Exercise?

I have received a lot of questions regarding this topic as of late, soooo here comes some sciencey stuff!

Aerobic can be defined as INVOLVING oxygen, whereas anaerobic can be defined as NOT INVOLVING oxygen.  If we remember from a past post regarding cellular energy production, we burn different amounts of pyruvate and lactate depending upon how much oxygen is present in our cells at the time of glycolysis.

Aerobic exercise can be defined as INVOLVING oxygen.  The primary fuel for this type of exercise is pyruvate.

If oxygen is plentiful at the time of glycolysis, our cells will produce high levels of pyruvate and low levels of lactate to be used by the mitochondria for ATP production.  This type of energy production is extremely efficient and can be repeated literally all day long as long as you are fueling properly during exercise, hydrating, and have enough chamois cream :-).  This is aerobic exercise.

Anaerobic exercise can be defined as NOT INVOLVING oxygen.  The primary fuel for this type of exercise is lactate.

If oxygen is not plentiful at the time of glycolysis, our cells will begin to produce increased lactate.  The ratio of lactate to pyruvate produced will continue to change as the intensity becomes higher and/or oxygen levels decrease.  Eventually, you hit your lactate threshold which is the level at which your body cannot process the lactate being produced effectively and it begins to accumulate rapidly in the bloodstream.  As the body tries to utilize more and more lactate, hydrogen is produced as a byproduct.  The issue here is hydrogen lowers the pH of the blood present in the muscle (makes it more acidic) which is why your muscles burn with high intensity exercise (acidosis).  As the pH of the muscle continues to lower and become more acidic, muscular contractions will become less forceful and eventually cease if the muscle pH becomes low enough.  This is anaerobic exercise.

One of the most interesting aspects of cycling is it involves both aerobic and anaerobic efforts at times.  So, when you are training for your goal event or race, be sure to include both long steady efforts to improve aerobic capacity, but also short and hard efforts (with plenty of rest between) to improve anaerobic capacity.

How Do I Deal With Road Rash?

Crashing is an unfortunate aspect of cycling, but is seen as a rite of passage in most circles.  If you do happen to have the misfortune of crashing, losing some skin in the process is almost certain to happen.  The following is what has helped me in my years of crashing heal-up quick, but should never be used in place of medical advice!

Step 1. Clean It!

Crashing on a bike usually means getting a bunch of junk from the road or trail scraped deep into the wound.  If the debris aren’t removed well, it can lead to infection further down the line (which is no bueno), so step 1 is the most important step!

  1. Let the wound bleed for a bit to help carry out some of the debris from deep within the wound.
  2. When you get home, hop into the shower and let the water gently wash the wound out.
  3. If you still see debris in the wound, you are going to need to get it out with either your hands or a brush.  Ensure both are sterile before putting them into the wound, and if the job looks too big to handle, go to the hospital!
  4. After the debris are removed, gently clean the wound with warm soapy water.
  5. Pat the wound dry.

Step 2. Cover It!

Covering the wound is important to not allow foreign objects and bacteria to touch and possibly enter the wound.  How you cover it and what you use to cover it depends on if the wound is weeping (exudate), or not.

Actively “Weeping” Wound

  • Use triple antibiotic cream and cover the wound with a non-stick gauze pad.  Then pack another 1-2 regular pads on top to help absorb the wound exudate.
  • You can then cover this with a large Tegaderm dressing, or wrap some gauze around the area to keep the pads in place, or get that nifty tube compression gauze and look so pro ↓↓↓
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Source: The Best Bike Blog Ever
  • Change the dressing, clean the wound with warm soapy water, and reapply triple antibiotic ointment every 2-3 hours, or if the pads are leaking (ew!).
  • Do this until the exudate stops, which may take 2-3 days in severe cases.
  • Constantly check for signs of infection over this time as well.

Non-Weeping Wound

  • Clean the wound with warm soapy water and pat dry.
  • Get a large enough Tegaderm dressing to cover the area, place the dressing directly over top of the wound and leave it there.  Tegaderm dressing can stay in place for days and will heal the wound quickly and effectively and without scabbing.  You can also shower with it in place.
  • If you do notice some wound exudate, simply remove the Tegaderm, clean the wound and reapply a fresh dressing.
  • Again, constantly check for signs of infection.

Step 3. Protect It!

After the wound is healed, your skin is going to need to be kept hydrated (body lotion after you shower), blocked from the suns UV rays as it will burn super easy (SPF anyone?), and protected from repeat crashes as it will tear easier than mature skin (elbow/knee pads) for a few months.

Here’s to staying rubber side down!